Quarterly Roadmaps: A Complete Guide for Project Managers

What is quarterly roadmaps

One of product managers’ most important tasks is developing a sound yet practical product roadmap. This is useful for expressing the team’s overall plans with a set schedule so there wouldn’t be any unrealistic expectations. As a product manager, create a quarterly roadmap to acquire direction and guidance, align vision, exchange information, and gather input on your invention.

However, from my experience building multiple product roadmaps, it’s easier said than done. From where should a roadmap-building project begin? What separates project planning from a unique product roadmap? How can you make it a living, breathing planning that changes as the project progresses?

In this article, I will answer all these questions and explain how we succeeded in creating a perfect quarterly roadmap.

What is a Quarterly Roadmap?

An annual plan, divided into four parts, is referred to as a quarterly roadmap. You’ll establish objectives, keep track of your business initiatives, and acknowledge your successes every 3 months. The time allotted for quarterly planning sessions should also be used to make notes of the previous three months, go over tasks that have been finished and are still in progress, and make plans for the upcoming quarter.

However, startup product managers often confuse a product roadmap with a release roadmap. So, check out the key differences between them.

Difference between product roadmap and release plan

I’ll be honest. As a manager, I initially preferred to avoid creating roadmaps because they looked like this.

Strategic goal plan of project manager

Source: plan.io

As you can see, there needs to be more structure and proper planning. Moreover, we needed to recognize the effectiveness of having an organized quarterly roadmap. What are these benefits, you ask?

At Netsmartz, we use it for the following reasons.

Benefits of using a quarterly roadmap

  • A drive to finish activities quickly because there are fewer deadlines to worry about
  • During every 90-day schedule, dedicated time is given to focusing on details.
  • A chance to evaluate quarterly business expansion and transformation rates and implement the necessary changes moving ahead
  • Planning also eliminates any possibility of misunderstanding and unrealistic delivery promises.

Now that you know all the benefits of having an adequately planned roadmap let’s discover the detailed steps of developing a compelling product development roadmap.

A Step-by-step Guide to Developing a Product Roadmap

Product Roadmap Development Steps

Step 1: Establish your Key Objectives and Metrics for the Upcoming Quarter

Successful businesses shift their attention from one constraint sector to another due to the declining investment returns in prior sectors. For instance, you may concentrate on sprouting accounts throughout one quarter. Several quarters afterward, the emphasis needs to shift to retention since churn has begun to negatively impact market growth. Using information from your company review is an excellent place to start when coming up with goals for the upcoming quarter.

As you set goals, consider the following typical questions:

  • What demands are there that must be met immediately?
  • How can we balance the requirements of potential clients (sales) and current clients (consumer success)?
  • What are some long-term objectives that we should start immediately?
  • What are the necessary vs. desirable goals?

Now that you know your objectives, it’s time to prioritize.

Step 2: Brainstorm, Connect and Arrange Ideas According to Objectives.

Now take the concepts out of “pending collection” and start planning. Concepts can be prioritized from various perspectives, but all of them should meet your software’s goals and objectives. Product concepts and financial categories are additional dimensions. Using quantitive prioritizing, product choices can be made precisely so that everyone will understand why one endeavor or functionality performs better than another.

Consider limitations like client agreements to fulfill revenue goals or lower churn while ranking proposals in order of importance. Committing functionality by date may only sometimes be a good idea, but it is a reality that we frequently encounter. This “out of place” thinking prioritization is an excellent teaching method for future behavioral improvements.

Step 3: Determine Resourcing Requirements or Constraints by Gathering a High-Level Estimate

There are two estimation methods: top-down (also known as t-shirt size) and bottom-up ( Dividing epics into stories, calculating each narrative, and combining the totals). Bottom-up estimating is useless since, assuming the strategy is appropriately developed, you will move ahead with a specific segment of activities.

Nevertheless, high-level estimation is crucial, particularly in cycles or weeks.

The following are some significant advantages:

  • Keep the engineering and product teams from being badly misaligned or misunderstood.
  • To obtain support, collaborate with your teammates to discover resource requirements (or bottlenecks) among other groups, including scrum/UX/development teams.
  • Let your employees devise an alternate solution if the proposed solution requires too many resources, is too time-consuming, etc.

Value is not delivered if only a portion of the functionality is finished. Try swapping to another concept if the one you have doesn’t need bottleneck capabilities. If you can’t get the backing from all departments, you must get it to the marketplace. Alternatively, alter your strategy to develop your product or figure out how to finish it without employing engineering efforts.

Step 4: Create a Strong Product Roadmap

A high-level product roadmap can be created after you have both priority and estimate. Making a few roadmap alternatives to evaluate against one another or present to teams and investors for synchronization is a sensible move.

But is there a mismatch or insufficient resources? The result could be that one pod has much more workload, but another has fewer work and objectives.

Business requirements typically change for every product pod.

In this scenario, there are 2 possible solutions:

  • Each pod focuses on work in its particular region, but because of optimization, this will not produce high-quality benefits at the portfolio level.
  • Theoretically, splitting the pods to satisfy shifting needs is a good idea, but it typically negatively influences team interactions and performance.

Now that you’ve finished the first four stages of the quarterly product planning, it is time to know the common mistakes you should avoid while developing a quarterly roadmap.

Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Quarter Roadmaps

There are many hazards you have to keep away from while developing a product strategy. Sadly, there are times when a product roadmap error can be detrimental to a startup and even result in its demise. So, we’ve outlined 3 typical mistakes below that you should eliminate while creating your roadmap.

1. Feature-based approach rather than solution-based

Keep yourself from becoming the next functionality factory. Whenever a product fixes difficulties, it is successful. To give the product roadmap direction, you must concentrate on solutions instead of functionalities. You risk having unclear product objectives if you focus excessively on functionality rather than remedies. The likelihood of answering essential consumer needs decreases if you concentrate on functionality before developing solutions.

2. Providing excessive details

A roadmap is intended to be a comprehensive plan at the highest level. It must convey the product group’s objective regarding ideas that cross-functional team members potentially work on.

Including flowery descriptions in the roadmap is one of the most frequent errors. Often managers commit the blunder of being overly specific and including all the information in the roadmap, including information on anticipated timescales, assets, and intended functionality development. Although these elements are significant, a roadmap should include something other than them.

3. Avoiding collaboration

Along with standing by your choices, you should be open to working with others on the project. Ignoring your workforce when developing a product plan is among the most prevalent errors. A roadmap is typically the result of a collaborative effort. This multidisciplinary tactic helps you in creating the most refined product possible.

Even though a roadmap is a great way to break down barriers, we frequently work on barriers because a. We need to remember to make the whole process collaborative too often. This decreases the efficiency of all other departments & leads to a shortage of innovative and insightful ideas.

Pro Tip from Netsmartz

After you create a roadmap, don’t lock it in a box and bury it in the gourd. This is not the kind of documentation where we develop a concept, describe it, make it, explain it, check off everything, and afterward ignore it. It’s essential to continue reviewing. Check-in once a month (or twice a week) to assess progress, essential requirements, execution-related modifications (delays, scope expansions), or resource loss due to various factors. This way, you can best meet your product’s objectives.

Summing Up,

It requires determination, developing, and conveying to create a product roadmap. After it has been produced, it is the product manager’s responsibility to maintain the roadmap upgraded. Be adaptable, keep things straightforward, and keep your eyes on the prize.

However, for your roadmaps and planning to generate the best results, you must have a good team. At Netsmartz, we believe in building your development team on your terms. Build your dedicated development team of pre-vetted, experienced developers and Jumpstart your growth with us.
For further information, contact us.


Quarterly Roadmaps: A Complete Guide for Project Managers
John Ogden
Published on
October 14, 2022

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